A Pair of Perry Pioneers in Potter

If you are a fairly regular reader of this blog, you should already be aware that there was what I call a Perry County suburb that developed in the Potter/Sidney, Nebraska area.  Quite a few folks who were born and raised in the Lutheran churches around here migrated to that area in the early 1900’s.  I will share another tale today of a couple that originated here, but ended up in Cheyenne County, Nebraska.  This couple was very much involved in the establishment of a Lutheran church in Potter.

This story starts 131 years ago when Benjamin Hilpert was born on January 27, 1889.  He was the son of Andrew and Anna (Ross) Hilpert.  Benjamin’s mother was the sister of Johann Ross, whose story was told just a few days ago.  Benjamin was baptized at Concordia Lutheran Church in Frohna, Missouri.  Below is his baptism record.

Benjamin Hilpert baptism record Concordia Frohna MO
Benjamin Hilpert baptism record – Concordia, Frohna, MO

We see Benjamin in the 1900 census for Brazeau Township in Perry County.  Benjamin was 11 years old.

Benjamin Hilpert 1900 census Brazeau Township MO
1900 census – Brazeau Township, MO

Meanwhile, a girl by the name of Esther Kaufmann was born on February 8, 1892.  She was the daughter of Joseph and Emma (Boehme) Kaufmann and baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church in Altenburg.  Below is her baptism record.

Esther Kaufmann baptism record Trinity Altenburg MO
Esther Kaufmann baptism – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

Esther can be found in the 1900 census for Brazeau Township.  She was 8 years old.

Esther Kaufmann 1900 census Brazeau Township MO
1900 census – Brazeau Township, MO

The marriage between Benjamin Hilpert and Esther Kaufmann would be one of those marriages that involved a Frohna boy and an Altenburg girl.  They both came from an area that is fairly equidistant between those two towns.  The land in the red box on the map below was where Benjamin was raised, and I think the blue arrow points to a piece of Kaufmann land where Esther may have been raised.

Hilpert Kaufmann land map -1915
Hilpert and Kaufmann land map – 1915

The marriage of Benjamin and Esther took place on March 28, 1910 at Trinity Lutheran Church.  The marriage took place on the day after Easter Sunday.  Below is their marriage license.

Hilpert Kaufmann marriage license
Hilpert/Kaufmann marriage license

We also have this marriage record from the church books.

Hilpert Kaufmann marriage record Trinity Altenburg MO
Hilpert/Kaufmann marriage record – Trinity, Altenburg, MO

We know these two were married before the 1910 census was taken because we find them as a couple in that document.  It appears that Benjamin had a farm of his own in Union Township for a short time.

Benjamin Hilpert 1910 Union Township MO
1910 census – Union Township, MO

Two children were born into this family, one in 1912 and another in 1914, while they were still living in Perry County.  Those two babies were baptized at Salem Lutheran Church in Farrar, Missouri.   Sometime after 1914 and before 1917, Benjamin moved his family to Cheyenne County in western Nebraska.  His World War I draft registration documents this.

005253424_02447
Benjamin HIlpert – WWI draft registration

The above document states that Benjamin was a drayman.  This description of a drayman can be found on Wikipedia.

A drayman was historically the driver of a dray, a low, flat-bed wagon without sides, pulled generally by horses or mules that were used for transport of all kinds of goods.

It was in November of 1918 that a group of Lutherans living in Cheyenne County established a new congregation, St. Paul’s Lutheran, in Potter, Nebraska.  I found the paragraph below in an anniversary book from that congregation.  It says that the organizational meeting for that church took place in the home of Benjamin Hilpert.

St.Paul's Lutheran Potter NE history

The only surname I see in that paragraph that I do not think has a Perry County connection is Matthes.  When church records began at St. Paul’s, the very first baptism was the last child born to Benjamin and Esther in 1918.  He was born that December.

Benjamin would be referred to as a farmer in all future documents.  The first census in which we find him in Nebraska was the 1920 census.

Benjamin Hilpert 1920 census Pleasant View Township Cheyenne County NE
1920 census – Pleasant View Township, NE

We also find Benjamin and his family in the 1930 census.

Benjamin Hilpert 1930 census Pleasant View Township Cheyenne County NE
1930 census – Pleasant View Township, NE

In 1936, this couple’s oldest child and only daughter, Leona Hilpert, died at the age of 24.  She was buried in the St. Paul’s Lutheran Cemetery.

Leona Hilpert gravestone St. John's Gurley NE
Leona Hilpert gravestone – St. Paul’s, Gurley, NE

The 1940 census is the last one that we can view.  Not only is there another Perry County name, Charles Fiehler, in this household, but there are also several other former Perry County folks on the same page of the census that I did not display.

Benjamin Hilpert 1940 census Pleasant View Township Cheyenne County NE
1940 census – Pleasant View Township, NE

Benjamin died in 1970 at the age of 81; Esther died in 1974 at the age of 82.  They, like their daughter, Leona, are buried in the St. Paul’s Lutheran Cemetery.

Benjamin and Esther Hilpert gravestone St. Paul's Gurley NE
Benjamin and Esther Hilpert gravestone – St. Paul’s, Gurley, NE

In 2018, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Potter, Nebraska celebrated their 100th anniversary.  One of our guest bloggers, Eunice Schlichting, wrote a post about that centennial celebration titled, Praise God for Potter Parish.  Our museum now has special anniversary booklets for three separate occasions during the history of St. Paul’s.  It is a very special place for the German Lutherans of Perry County, and it all began in the living room of the Benjamin Hilpert farmhouse.  And his very pregnant wife, Esther, must have been OK with that.


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